John 11: 32-36
32 When Mary came where Jesus was and saw him, she knelt at his feet and said to him, “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” 33 When Jesus saw her weeping, and the Jews who came with her also weeping, he was greatly disturbed in spirit and deeply moved. 34 He said, “Where have you laid him?” They said to him, “Lord, come and see.” 35 Jesus began to weep. 36 So the Jews said, “See how he loved him!”
In today’s reading we find Jesus and Mary coming together after the tragic death of her brother Lazarus. She is understandably upset over the loss of her brother, and turns to Jesus with a mixture of grief and reproach, when she says to him “Lord, if you had been here, my brother would not have died.” She knew that Jesus had the power to heal her brother, had probably even seen him heal strangers…yet her brother was his friend, and Jesus had not come soon enough to save him!
I think it is safe for us to assume that Jesus was stung by her words, even though he knew that he was going to return Lazarus to life, Jesus must have felt sorrow for the pain that Mary, her family and their friends were feeling over the loss of their loved one. The Gospel tells us that when he saw their pain and weeping, Jesus was moved to weep himself!
This simple verse “Jesus began to weep.” tells us so much about who Jesus is! In short, this passage reminds us that through Jesus God did not only come to be one with us, but to actually be one OF us!! Jesus knew the joys of friendship and celebration, he knew of compassion and love, and he also knew of hatred, anger, and of loss. By weeping over the loss of his good friend, and the pain of those who cared for him, Jesus shows us just how human he really is!
In this Gospel story we are shown a side of Jesus who not just knows our joys and our pains, but has experienced these things for himself! I like that God wanted to come down to us, in order to know both the joys and struggles of life, in order to connect with us right where we are!
As single parents, we may sometimes feel as if people who have not ‘walked in our shoes’ can understand what our lives are like (I have had similar feelings as a person in recovery, when working with counselors and others who have not experienced the struggle for themselves). While this may not be a fair assumption to make, as there are many caring people who have a lot to offer to us, but have not been single parents, it is a natural feeling to have…that no one knows us who has not gone through what we have. Given this natural prejudice that some of us may feel, it is good to know that God has walked in our shoes…and then some!
By experiencing life on life’s terms through Jesus, God knows us, and loves us all the more for our strengths as well as our weaknesses!
As we go through our lives, one day at a time, there is comfort in knowing that it is the Risen Christ, who has lived with us, and as one of us, who is walking with us, laughing with us and weeping with us, and sharing God’s love with us! It is Christ who reminds us that we are all in this together, as we are all God’s children! This does not mean we always have to agree, but that we should always show each other the respect and compassion that God has shown to us…that Jesus showed for his lost friend…and that we show for our children!
Of course this is not always easy for us to do, especially today when it seems that contention has become fashionable, and the whole world can appear to be caught up with the process of choosing sides! To be honest, some people do rub us the wrong way (think of the person who cut you off while driving, or the teacher who might have been a bit too harsh with your child), and there will be many who have different opinions about things like parenting, religion and politics than we do…the important thing is not to revel in our differences but to learn from them, and to find our common-ground, because while we do not have to like everything about each other (and others do not have to like everything about us) we do still need each other in order to make our world a better place for ourselves and our children.
While today’s Gospel has been seen as a sign of Jesus’ power over death, and a foreshadowing of his own death and resurrection, I think that there is another message in this reading: in weeping for his friend, Jesus is showing his humanity and therefore calling us all together as one, as we share the most common of experiences together…no matter who we are! For when it comes right down to it, there really are no ‘sides’ to pick, as we are all in this life together, and we all have known joy, worry, grief, loneliness and love, and we all want the best for our children. No matter who we are, what we believe or where we are from, we all walk through life in the light of God’s grace, freely given!
In weeping for his friends, Jesus is also weeping with us…and proclaims his solidarity with us as human-beings, willing to share our pain, and our joy, as well as our love! In weeping there at the tomb of Lazarus, in his suffering on the cross, and in the light of Easter morning we are all brought together in the hope of the Risen Christ, and all called to share this hope with the world…as it is this hope, and this love that calls us out of our differences and brings us together as one people: children of the living God!
Let us Pray:
God, thank you for walking with us, weeping with us, celebrating life with us, and coming to us with the hope of your love: the hope of Christ, freely given! Please help us to share this hope with our children and each other, and to see that despite our many differences we are all in this life together, and all your well-loved children. Help us to come together in the hope of Christ to support and care for each other…and also to be more understanding and considerate of others! Let us remember that it is only by working together in faith that we can bring this world closer to the promise of your kingdom…for ourselves and for our children.